Spark Transmitter

    The early wireless transmitter shown above was, in its time, cutting edge technology but today is regarded as piece of curious apparatus. The banner images show a simple battery operated spark transmitter.  Coast stations would be slightly different--the battery would be replaced by generator and the coil would be coupled to a high copper wire antenna.  If the generator was alternating current, the interrupter would be removed as well.

     The Marconi company, prior to the installations on the west coast, had erected a handful of stations on Canada's east coast.  The Marconi Company built the stations and supplied the qualified operators.  Profit was made by a per word charge on any messages.  The Marconi Company would only accept message traffic from other Marconi stations, whether shore based or on vessels.  Thus ships fitted with wireless systems other than Marconi found themselves unable to pass message traffic on the Canadian east coast.  The Dominion Government did not consider this to be of benefit to the maritime community.

    The Marconi Company also had an agreement with the Canadian Dominion Government to supply and operate wireless stations in Canada.   The Dominion Government drew up a new contract allowing it to withdraw if the Marconi system becomes superseded by a better system.  Thus Shoemaker equipment was installed in the west coast stations erected by the Dominion Government and staffed by qualified operators.  Marconi was left on the sidelines.  Marconi Company eventually changed their message policy and accepted any traffic.

    By 1911 the Shoemaker transmitters were removed and Marconi equipment installed.  This increased the station's range from about 100 miles to 300 miles.

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Typical 1910 Station


   This is a photo of a typical station from the turn of the century.  The major items are all identified.

1 kWatt Marconi Ship Station


   Retired ship operator's reminiscences on his old Marconi 1 KW ship station.  A schematic and explanation.

Improved Spark Transmitter


   Using a "quenched spark system" effectively doubles the efficiency of the transmitter by keeping more of the energy in the antenna, thus increasing the effective range of the station.